Page 1: Introduction
In the immediate post-war era, firms in this country employed a command and control way of working. Decisions were made by senior managers and were then passed down the organisation in a top-down way through organisations characterised by bureaucracy.
In recent years this pattern has changed. We have seen the stripping out of layers of bureaucracy as organisations have become leaner and flatter. Increasingly the emphasis today is on creating a teamwork approach, where groups of employees are given far more responsibility for making decisions for themselves. Two new terms have come to be widely used:
- Empowerment - This means the increased participation by employees in their workplace with a view to encouraging initiative and a spirit of internal entrepreneurialism, or intraprenurism among employees.
- Work Teams - The idea is that business is really a series of projects carried out by small groups of people with complementary skills. This is a move away from dividing businesses into clearly-defined functions such as production and marketing.
This case study focuses on changes which took place in Blue Circle Cement’s Cauldon Works in Staffordshire. These changes were mirrored in a similar change programme at Dunbar in Scotland. The company decided to develop cultures in these business units that would be at the leading edge of best work practices, labour relations and productivity which would then be further employed throughout all other business units in the country.